CDC: 2017/2018 flu season strongest since 2009
Steel yourself for a strong cough/cold and flu season. Because before the ball even had a chance to drop in Times Square on Dec. 31, the 2017/2018 flu season is already being touted as the strongest on record since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, 5.8% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness.
That is well above the peak of illness rates recorded for the 2016/2017 season and nearly matches the height of illness rates recorded across the 2014/2015 season. And all indications suggest we haven't seen the peak of this year's season, yet.
According to the CDC, 46 states reported widespread influenza activity. The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during the week was influenza A(H3N2). In the past, A(H3N2) virus-predominant influenza seasons have been associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children compared to other age groups. In addition, influenza vaccine effectiveness in general has been lower against A(H3N2) viruses than against influenza A(H1N1) or influenza B viruses.
Last season, vaccine effectiveness against circulating influenza A(H3N2) viruses was estimated to be 32% in the U.S. CDC expects that VE could be similar this season, should the same A(H3N2) viruses continue to predominate. For this reason, in addition to influenza vaccination for prevention of influenza, the use of antiviral medications for treatment of influenza becomes even more important than usual.
Walgreens Boots Alliance celebrates latest CSR achievements
Walgreens Boots Alliance is setting the pace on sustainability issues from health care and combatting climate change to promoting diversity and fostering inclusion as evidenced in its new 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility Report published Friday.
Leveraging its scale and business values as well as the strong CSR heritage of its legacy companies, Walgreens Boots Alliance made significant strides during fiscal 2017, hitting important milestones and setting out new commitments within its 12 CSR goals.
[quote-from-article] “Corporate Social Responsibility sits at the heart of Walgreens Boots Alliance. Throughout 2017, we continued to demonstrate how we as a company embed our CSR values in everything we do,” stated Ornella Barra, Walgreens Boots Alliance co-COO and chairman of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. “I am immensely proud of the positive impact our initiatives have on millions of lives around the world. By building on our successes and creating long-term collaborations with partner organizations, we aim for the biggest possible positive impact in our areas of focus. For us, this is quite simply the right thing to do.”
Through its CSR strategy and goals, Walgreens Boots Alliance continues to support the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and is committed to aligning its activities to support all 17 of the SDGs, which include goals to end poverty, take action on climate change, improve access to health and education and build strong institutions.
“We are dedicated to CSR because we see it as driving a sustainable and profitable enterprise,” added Stefano Pessina, Walgreens Boots Alliance executive vice chairman and CEO. “As a health and wellbeing company, we operate in markets where ethical behavior is of utmost importance. We strive to be a responsible neighbor in the communities we serve, to protect the planet for the future, to do business with integrity and to treat our people and our customers with dignity and respect.”
Highlights from the 2017 CSR Report include:
- In the U.S. Walgreens expanded programs to combat opioid abuse through medication disposal kiosks (more than 150 tons of unused medications have been collected and disposed of since 2016) and through work to make naloxone, a lifesaving opioid antidote, available without requiring a prescription at its pharmacies in 45 states;
- Boots UK employees and customers have raised more than £15 million ($24 million) for Macmillan Cancer Support over eight years, and more than 2,200 Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists have been trained to offer support to cancer patients and their loved ones;
- Walgreens expanded its partnership with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, including training for pharmacists to help patients who are taking blood cancer medication;
- Walgreens continued its support of the Red Nose Day annual campaign, raising more than $20 million with 10.6 million noses sold, which helps to provide nutritious meals, essential medicine, clean water and other vital aid and services to children in need in the U.S. and in other countries;
- During fiscal 2017 Walgreens Boots Alliance decreased its total carbon footprint by 6.5% from the previous year, through energy efficiency programs and projects; and
- During fiscal 2017 Boots UK achieved its CO2 reduction target three years ahead of schedule, cutting emissions by 33% in Boots stores that were open in 2005.
Nature’s Truth packs supplement punch into new powder format
Nature’s Truth this week announced the introduction of five new farm-fresh powders to their expanding product line. The new, innovative powders supply nutrients in a convenient way that goes beyond the traditional capsule or tablet that consumers are used to.
“Consumers have begun to look for alternate ways to consume the key ingredients they love that better fits their on-the-go lifestyle, which is why we’ve created our new powders," stated Kimberly Vigliante, senior vice president sales and marketing for the Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based firm. "Not only do they contain the trending ingredients consumers are looking for, but they are an easy addition to any routine.”
Of the many powders featured in the new line, Nature's Truth identified its pure turmeric powder and its ultra beet root powder (antioxidant and fiber-rich) as two key additions. Both powders are a convenient addition to any consumer’s busy routine by just adding a scoop to their favorite recipe or smoothie.
Each powder contains organic ingredients, is non-GMO, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, free of artificial colors, preservative free and free of any artificial flavors. With this new product line, Nature’s Truth provides retailers with incremental sales opportunities by expanding their wellness category and consumers’ baskets.